The line of beauty, Alan Hollinghurst

These days LGBT fiction is more interesting to me. I tire quickly of the reflexive heteronormativity in fiction. I picked that book rather innocently. It packed a wallop of beautiful prose and queer issues.

The book itself is hard to get into. The main character isn’t exciting or likable. The conflict is very understated and it is very British. I almost gave up but the writing drew me in.

Alan relies more on astute observations and intertwining character thought with surrounding and less on gymnastic, masculine prose. It is very personal, very character interior; it is almost too easy to ignore its beauty.

As always, when I read geniuses, I try in my small way to imitate. So I have been thinking a lot about integrating setting with character observation. So my boring descriptions of things need to move between memory, feeling, the future in the character’s eye, and being careful not sound like an info dump. Hopefully, you might see how non-trivial this is.

It quickly gets to be an overwhelming exercise. And readers do not readily appreciate failed literary experiments. Well Alan takes his time to write his books, apparently, it doesn’t come easy for him either.

I get excited on a prose level. On the storytelling, character level, I happily ignore. But not too much though. After reading Fitzgerald many romantic passages, I have also being thinking about emotive prose. On one level, feeling is natural if you build the character well. On other hand, I think there is something to writing that capture the essence of feeling. And this too is a magic with Alan, he writes so well and it doesn’t feel cerebral or intellectual to me.

Anyway, we’ll see how those experiments turn out. Hopefully, someone will find them readable.


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